Woman looking at a laptop with the words "Women can" and a scrolling list of adjectives, transform, analyze, develop, code, explain, discover. Also text that reads March 8, IWD '23 When it comes to a remarkable event like International Women's Day, the easiest route is to look at the numbers. We can say things like, although women make up just 28% of the global tech industry workforce, that number has been steadily increasing. Or we could give the example of Europe, where 43% of STEM employees are women. But numbers only tell part of the story.

Quantitative stats can give us an overall idea of the progress we have or haven't achieved, but what about the qualitative side? It takes more than a few good numbers to close the gender gap and see if women are advancing as they should. Are women's salaries on par with those of men in the same position? Do companies provide an accessible environment so the female talent they've hired can grow?

Fair pay and promotions

It goes without saying that women are much more than their job titles. They're sisters, friends, mothers, active members of their communities, dancers, sports enthusiasts, musicians; the list goes on. If we want more women in the tech world, we need to facilitate a work environment conducive to their needs.

But what does this environment look like?

It can start with having no pay gaps at all. Lighthouse Labs' pay scale exists on a band system. This means everyone, regardless of gender, is paid according to their skills and experience. They also move up to the next tier the more specialized and proficient they become in their role. Next comes promoting those who have proven their leadership skills. Last year alone, we had 29 promotions, 23 of which were females bringing the total percentage of women in leadership to 59% (remember, numbers still are essential). On top of that, our c-suite team counts half their Leadership Board as female.

We're lucky to have an extraordinary Executive Team heading up Lighthouse Labs. One of those three fearless leaders is Nicole, our COO. Overall, 65% of our employees are women.

Life happens; we roll with it

Recognizing that women's roles go beyond the 9-5 is crucial to creating an environment where they can grow. Studies show that 57% of women experience work-related burnout, compared with 48% of men. That's why we allow for flexible work-from-home schedules. Employees work the 8-4. 9-5, 8:30-5:15 that fits best for them. Moms (and dads!) can leave work as needed to pick up the kids, and if a little happens to hop on a call, they're usually the highlight! Sometimes daycare calls about a sick kid, Fido needs a mid-day walk, or you get the call that the horse's stall is frozen shut (yes, this happens)! Women at Lighthouse Labs aren't required to ignore pressing responsibilities in the name of corporate success.

We also provide a network of coworking spaces so employees can get out of the house for a change of pace or be closer to school or dance class for pickup or dropoff and skip the traffic.

Downtime is downtime. Not only are we exclusively WFH, but we have a Right to Disconnect policy, meaning when you log off, you're not expected to respond to any further chats, emails, or requests. Personal time is paramount to a healthy work/life balance, and we recognize that enough downtime makes more engaged and happy employees.

Empower others to do the same

Making tech more equitable for women goes beyond our virtual doors. We've partnered with numerous organizations that want to see women succeed in tech. Of Lighthouse Labs various Impact Initiatives programs, 40% of graduates have been women.

Vice President of Social Impact and Global Partnerships Stephanie Wilson had this to say,

"Through partnerships with the Society For Canadian Women In Science & Technology (SCWIST), International Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), and United Way Greater Toronto, steps are being taken to create opportunity and work toward gender parity."

Most recently, Lighthouse Labs received funding through the government's ICT Boost Program to offer underrepresented groups a fully-funded tech education, including women. Wraparound supports are built into this program's infrastructure, meaning women who enroll don't need to worry about finding affordable childcare or education getting in the way of the immigration process.

While there is still a way to go in gender equity in the tech world, steps are being taken, and we're on the right path. We at Lighthouse Labs can't fix this problem in a day or force others to see things as we do. Still, we can start with our own staff, ensuring women are fairly compensated, kids are seen as blessings and not burdens, treating other life responsibilities as just as or sometimes more important than work, and promoting hard-working women. We can also provide opportunities for women by opening up avenues to paid tech education and partnering with organizations that share our vision.

All that to say, Happy International Women's Day.

To read more on some amazing women in tech, from our alumnae to current employees, check out the links below.

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